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As Long as We Remember...

December 6, 2011

Who owns the Sixth District seat?

Shawn Burns

The redrawn Congressional Sixth District is attracting would-be candidates from all corners and from under all size of rocks. It is really the so-called candidates that are crawling out from under rocks that people in the district should be watching with a close eye.


The new Sixth District is comprised of Garrett, Alleghany, Washington southern Frederick and western Montgomery counties.


It is difficult to imagine a citizen in Alleghany County having the same priority list as a citizen in Montgomery County. That point is the basis for challenging the legality of the recent gerrymandering/redistricting scam that Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democratic controlled legislature forced on us.


There are at least two separate lawsuits questioning the legality of the redistricting. Neither lawsuit has much of a chance of changing the outcome of the newly created congressional districts since both political parties utilize this practice of redistricting as a means to giving themselves advantages at the ballot box.


Whatever happened to the idea of citizen-legislators? It was a noble idea that derived its genesis in the thoughts and actions of men such as George Washington and James Madison.


The belief in the idea of the citizen-legislator is the reason George Washington refused to serve as president for more than two terms. But that was then. Today, things are very different.


Our current Sixth District representative, Roscoe Bartlett, originally ran with a confusing promise of limited service, nearly 20 years ago.


Even those who do not support Congressman Bartlett will admit that at the very least, he has been what he said he would be – a Republican with a conservative voting record.


Change is a good thing, especially in politics. Regardless of district boundaries, now is the time for some new representation, fresh ideas and a new perspective in the Sixth District.


In one corner we have State Sen. Rob Garagiola (D., Montgomery), who is considered the leading candidate so far among the three declared Democrats in the race. The others Democrats throwing their hats into the ring already include former Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, Dr. Milad Pooran, a doctor from Jefferson, and Montgomery County businessman John Delaney.


In the other corner, on the Republican side, we have Congressman Bartlett, Robert Coblentz of Williamsport, Robin Ficker of Montgomery County (who has been trying for years to get elected to something, anything), Brandon Rippeon of Darnestown, and Joseph Krysztoforski of Baltimore County.


A few more Republican names have been thrown into the mix in the last week.


Longtime Bartlett aide Bud Otis is sniffing around for support to make a run at his former boss’s job. As a result, the congressman has fired Mr. Otis, although the “official word is that he resigned.


State Senator David Brinkley is forming an exploratory committee.


And State GOP Chairman and former state Sen. Alex Mooney is preparing to seek the Sixth District Republican nomination. Mr. Mooney has said he is creating an exploratory committee and says he will resign his position as head of the state GOP when he officially enters the race.


In typical Mooney fashion, he said in a prepared statement: “We cannot let Congressman Bartlett’s seat be taken by a tax-and-spend liberal like Rob Garagiola.”


Comments like this are one of the many reasons that voters – and Republicans – did not re-elect Mr. Mooney to the state Senate last fall. His hollow, party-line rhetoric and non-existent record of accomplishment in the state legislature led voters to send him packing.


And Mr. Mooney needs to have very simple concept explained to him. The Sixth District seat is not Congressman Bartlett’s seat, nor is it a Republican or Democrat seat. It belongs to the citizens of the Sixth District.


Career politicians, wanna-be politicians who crave the spotlight and other ignoble types need not apply for the job of representing the people of the Sixth District.


The citizens of the Sixth District are the only true and rightful owner of this seat. And whomever we loan it had better fully grasp this idea and be willing to be a true citizen-legislator working on our behalf.


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